What's your favorite little-known soda pop?
July 30, 2007 2:50 PM   Subscribe

What's your favorite regional or "indie" soda pop on bottled non-alcoholic beverage (available in New York City or online, preferably)?

Like many a drinker before me, I'm lookng to cut my quantity of consumption in favor of quality. What are some of your favorite obscure bottled non-alcoholic beverages? I'm already a big fan of Boylans, Blenheim spicy ginger ale, D&G Ginger Beer, and of course Jones. I'm particularly interested in regional brews.

I'm in New York, so things available online or in specialty stores are best, although I'm interested either way.
posted by Bookhouse to Food & Drink (54 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Squamscot Sodas is as indie as they get, and delicious in all its varieties. I don't know whether they would sell over the internet, but you can try emailing them to ask.

Maine Root's root beers are sold nationally in crunchy-granola stores, and it is wonderful. But even better than the root beer is their ethereal, not-too-sweet, wintergreeny refreshing Sarsparilla.
posted by Miko at 2:55 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Dr. Browns Cel-Ray is a old NYC deli fave of mine.

More limited to New England is Moxie.
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:06 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by candyland at 3:24 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Almdudler is one of my favorites. It's a really popular soft drink in Austria and tastes sort of like ginger ale, but not. It's right up your alley; it's herbal, it's regional, and it was originally developed as an alternative to alcoholic beverages. You should be able to find it in a specialty store; I first tried it in Vienna, but in the USA I've been able to get it at BevMo.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:31 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of the Canfield's lineup (all diet, btw) but Vernor's will always be my sweet, sweet lover. Others love another Vernor's product, Faygo RedPop.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:08 PM on July 30, 2007

Is Saranac little-known?
posted by Lucinda at 4:09 PM on July 30, 2007

not really indie, but Apple Sidra. Any local asian grocery should have some.
posted by mphuie at 4:15 PM on July 30, 2007

Ramune is an o.k. But it's bottle is pretty cool.
posted by bluefly at 4:18 PM on July 30, 2007

More: the whole Faygo lineup has its fanbase, and you might also check out beverages like Jarritos that come from other countries.

posted by Stewriffic at 4:18 PM on July 30, 2007

Response by poster: Great stuff! Stewriffic, I forgot to mention my deep love of Vernor's. And candyland, I looked for some cheerwine when I was at Folly Beach earlier this summer, but I'd forgotten about it.

Keep 'em coming, please.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:21 PM on July 30, 2007

Ok, I'm apparently a grocer and didn't know it. Vernors, not Vernor's. And I also take back my assertation that Vernors and Faygo are related companies. They're not.

However, looking at the Cadbury-Schweppes wiki entry lists many other regional specialties.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:24 PM on July 30, 2007

I really like grown up sodas, especially grown up ginger ale. It's less sweet than most ginger ale and really nice for a hangover. Definitely available throughout NYC and I think some chain stores (world market?) also carry it.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:28 PM on July 30, 2007

Actually? Pay me no mind at all. It's clearly Vernor's, as the wikipedia picture shows.

I was reacting against the Michigan tendency to append an ('s) to every single store/product. Meijer's for example, when in reality the store is called Meijer. Where you can get both Vernor's and Faygo products.

Anyhoo, just kick me now.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:30 PM on July 30, 2007

"Ting" from Jamaica is pretty refreshing. It is a grapefruit-flavored soda that uses sugar and not corn syrup for sweetener.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 4:40 PM on July 30, 2007

Jumping Johnny Root Beer is excellent, as is Sprechers and the Michigan Brewing Company Root Beer.
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on July 30, 2007

Dry makes a lavender soda that is really wonderful. I've been meaning to try their other flavors.
posted by kitty teeth at 4:55 PM on July 30, 2007

cheerwine is about the best thing ever. i'm seconding that, not only because it is from my hometown (salisbury, nc) but also because its awesome. its best enjoyed cold, in a glass bottle (they use REAL sugar in the glass bottles) with a chilidog from haps grill (also in salisbury).

RC cola is great, particularly with a moon pie. but any southerner worth a damn knows that.
posted by kneelconqueso at 5:28 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: clearly the knowledge for thirst boys have seen this thread already, but failed to chime in. ahem.
posted by judith at 5:39 PM on July 30, 2007

Check out some of the ethnic grocery stores in your area for non-U.S. beverages. Somebody already mentioned ramune. I like Guarana Antarctica (caffeinated!), which is Brazilian. I sometimes get a hankering for Inca Kola, from Peru, which kind of tastes like fizzy bubblegum. Milkis is a Korean milk-based fizzy beverage, comes in a variety of flavors. Or you can try checking out the various Japanese canned coffees, including GOD brand.

And a variety of root beers.
posted by needled at 5:54 PM on July 30, 2007

Eastern PA's A-treat.

I recommend the root-beer, the birch-beer and the black cherry.
posted by buttercup at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2007

I super-love Moxie. It tastes kind of like rubber bands, but somehow that enhances my enjoyment. My stepgrandparents used to bring cases of it home to us when they went to New England to visit relatives, and every time I get a whiff of something rubber, it makes me think of my Meme and Pepe.
posted by padraigin at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2007

L&P (Lemon & Paeroa). Its slogan is "World Famous In New Zealand" ;-)
posted by media_itoku at 6:39 PM on July 30, 2007

It's not really as "indie" as some of these other suggestions, but I find that, on a hot day, there is no greater carbonated beverage than San Pellegrino Limonata (short of beer, that is). Makes Coke taste like malted ass-water, says I.
posted by saladin at 6:48 PM on July 30, 2007

I have been known to like a good ginger beer. Also, I still miss Spezi from my trip to Germany -- it was a cola/citrus blend. You could also get a half-beer, half-spezi concoction that was actually quite good (to this non-beer drinker).
posted by Rock Steady at 7:12 PM on July 30, 2007

Julmust is a Swedish kind of pop generally available around Christmas and Easter (and called Påskmust during the latter holiday.) Kind of cola-ish, but it contains malt and hops so it's a bit different. I love the stuff.

IKEA sells it before Christmas and Easter, or otherwise you can order it here or here.
posted by flod logic at 7:26 PM on July 30, 2007

Virgil's root beer and cream soda. Available at Trader Joes, among other places.
posted by jewishbuddha at 7:29 PM on July 30, 2007

Apprently, Virgil's is owned and distributed by Reed's. Reed's makes a fine ginger beer and other ginger products. And the Reed's and Virgil's products are all available online.
posted by jewishbuddha at 7:32 PM on July 30, 2007

Best answer: i'm a big fan of sprecher's line of soda. they brew root beer, cream soda, orange cream, ginger ale and a cherry soda called "ravin' red". it looks like it's pretty easy to find in new york.

there's also the australian bundaberg ginger beer which is really good. it's not the sharpest ginger beer around, but it also won't make you sick.

you should check out the soda pop stop. they have a huge selection of indie sodas in glass bottles. i've tried a lot of them, but only because i collect bottle caps, so i usually don't focus on the soda as much. i just had a bottle of fukola cola, which is pretty punk.

random asides: 1- cardbury-schweppes has a monopoly on ginger ale, brewing vernor's, canada dry, and schweppes. i don't know why that bugs me, but it does.
2- i don't know why we can't get an orange cola, like spezi or mezzo mix, in america. i guess it's probably the same reason that dr pepper was so hard to find in germany.
posted by kendrak at 7:33 PM on July 30, 2007

Ting all the way too bad allTheClonusHorror beat me too it. And you can order it online here
posted by DJWeezy at 8:05 PM on July 30, 2007

I can't believe no one's mentioned loganberry yet. Is it that unknown outside Buffalo?

That's a shame, it's really great stuff.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2007

You should try Moxie at least once. And probably only once. It's kind of awful unless you end up being one of the weirdos that love it.
posted by MsMolly at 8:26 PM on July 30, 2007

Still imported from mexico, still fucking delicious.
Sold in every little hacienda in NYC where most of the clientele don't speak english.
The real trick to Jarritos is to skip the (although still very good) more pedestrian flavors like tuttifrutti(fruit punch) or the mandarin(orange) and go for the more, er, esoteric flavors like Tamarind or Jamaica (Hibiscus).
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 8:44 PM on July 30, 2007

oh! oh! Sussex Golden Ginger Ale from the Maritimes (east coast provinces of Canada).

It's not indie - it's bottled by Cadbury I believe - but it's deeeelicious and spicy and I miss it.
posted by loiseau at 9:32 PM on July 30, 2007

I was very pleased to find a diet version of Green River (lime) on one of my trips to Chicago...but the bevmo link only has the kind with sugar.
posted by brujita at 9:47 PM on July 30, 2007

Dublin Dr. Pepper
posted by bertrandom at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2007

I love Gale's Root Beer, it has great vanilla undertones.
posted by melissam at 10:05 PM on July 30, 2007

Second the jamaica Jarritos, or the unmentioned apple one. The world needs more apple sodas.
posted by rokusan at 10:41 PM on July 30, 2007

Two rather unconventional sodas are favourites of mine:
Rivella is made in Switzerland from milk protein. It resembles ginger ale, and has an indescribable taste.
Malta is a malted beverage made by Guinness, brewed in Nigeria of all places. It can be commonly found in Malaysia as well.
posted by FissionChips at 1:25 AM on July 31, 2007

Boylan's Cane Cola! It's available online at Beverages Direct as well. It's good enough to tempt me to drink non-diet soda.
posted by Cricket at 1:28 AM on July 31, 2007

Never mind, I can't read tonight, apparently. Sorry.
posted by Cricket at 1:29 AM on July 31, 2007

What kendrak said: Bundaberg Ginger Beer. I was a swooner for Vernors all my life until I married an Australian and met up with Bundaberg.

I won't even touch the once-sacred V-stuff now. Same goes for every other ginger bev sold at WF/TJ/Sunflower/WOats and mainstream stores, all tried in the hope that something more accessible could compare. (We get our Bundaberg for $6/4-pack at Cost Plus World Market.)

Drinking any other ginger beer would be throwing away money that could be spent on the beautiful, inimitable taste of real cane sugar and peppery ginger bits floating in the bottle. Sediment! That's the mark of a quality ginger drink!
posted by Liffey at 6:07 AM on July 31, 2007


Owned and operated by Frank Rogers and his kids in Winchester, Kentucky. One of the few remaining teetotaler mountain dews of appalachia.
posted by billtron at 6:16 AM on July 31, 2007

Reed's Raspberry Ginger Beer is amazing.

Also (sorry guys), but the best Jarritos flavor is actually Guayaba. Now you know. :)
posted by invitapriore at 6:17 AM on July 31, 2007

Ok, I'm apparently a grocer and didn't know it. Vernors, not Vernor's.

Also...add milk to your Vernor's. It sounds atrocious, but believe me it's heaven.
posted by spicynuts at 6:49 AM on July 31, 2007

What no Sundrop? I'm really disappointed in the Tennesseans around here.

See also Double Cola and Ski.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:54 AM on July 31, 2007

The hottest ginger beer I've ever had is from Blenheim. Not the easiest to find, but it comes in glass bottles and is made with cane sugar. Get the kind with the pink caps, and for god's sake, take small sips.
posted by rachelpapers at 7:47 AM on July 31, 2007

Ha! I first saw the Pepsi-and-milk thing on "Laverne and Shirley," but my great-uncle used to do it all the time too. Can't be much weirder than a root beer float or Thai iced tea...

My all-time favorite is Spring Grove strawberry soda. It's from a tiny, tiny town in the southeast corner of Minnesota (a bit north of Decorah, Iowa). It comes in tiny little glass bottles, so it's cute AND yummy.

Sprecher's is indeed great, and the Ravin' Red is SO TASTY. It's not overly sweet but has that nice sort of organic flavor of honey that really makes it good. Their Lo-Cal root beer is also very good for a dietish beverage.
posted by Madamina at 7:53 AM on July 31, 2007

Oh, and let me throw in the awesomest thing in New Brunswick
posted by Pollomacho at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2007

seconding pop the soda shop and soda pop stop.
i would also try BevMo and beverages direct. the last one probably has the most reasonable postage rates but the lowest selection.

my area is root beer (warning, self link) so i will point you towards my favs:
are in my top 10.
well worth getting a whole case of.

as far as things available in NYC, i have found it pretty devoid of microbrew sodas, strangely. sometimes you can find some Olde Brookyln sodas, which are quite tasty. otherwise you get a lot of Boylans, some Briars and occasionally an Old Manhatten Sarsaparilla, all of which are good, but pretty widely available these days.
posted by annoyance at 9:11 AM on July 31, 2007

I live in Bermuda, where Barritt's Ginger Beer is very popular. I drink it all the time. But, I am originally from Michigan and love my Vernor's and Faygo. Especially Rock N' Rye.
posted by jasondigitized at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2007

Late to the party here, but I grew up drinking Cactus Cooler and it pretty much ties with Jarrito Tamarindo as a Thing I Want When It Is August. I haven't seen it in northern CA yet (just moved here) and it is stressing me out a little.
posted by crinklebat at 2:46 PM on August 3, 2007

Henry Weinhard's Root Beer.
Here's an excerpt from someone's review (linked above), which I totally agree with:
"This beverage is nasty and shameless in its pursuit of pleasing me. It’s almost embarrassing. It degrades itself to satisfy my every disgusting whim. It lays on the honey and vanilla and it’s thick and sweet and rich and ultra-creamy. It’s basically a meal in itself. It’s flat-out hardcore."

Okay, I have to go buy some now.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:17 PM on August 3, 2007

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